Lectio Divina

Wednesday - Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

your love never fails.
Hear our call.
Keep us from danger
and provide for all our needs.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Mark 12,18-27

Then some Sadducees -- who deny that there is a resurrection -- came to Jesus and they put this question to him, 'Master, Moses prescribed for us that if a man's brother dies leaving a wife but no child, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a wife and then died leaving no children. The second married the widow, and he too died leaving no children; with the third it was the same, and none of the seven left any children. Last of all the woman herself died. Now at the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?' Jesus said to them, 'Surely the reason why you are wrong is that you understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For when they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising again, have you never read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is God, not of the dead, but of the living. You are very much mistaken.'

3) Reflection

• In today’s Gospel the confrontation between Jesus and the authority continues. After the priests, the elders and the Scribes (Mk 12, 1-12) and the Pharisees and the Herodians (Mk 12, 13-17), now the Sadducees appear who ask a question about resurrection. A controversial theme, which caused argument and discussion among the Sadducees and the Pharisees (Mk 12,18-27; cf. At 23,6-1).
• In the Christian communities of the years seventy, the time when Mark wrote his Gospel, there were some Christians who, in order not to be persecuted, tried to reconcile the project of Jesus with the project of the Roman Emperor. The others who resisted the Empire were persecuted, accused and questioned by the authority of by the neighbours who felt annoyed, bothered by their witness. The description of the conflicts of Jesus with the authority was a very great help in order that the Christians did not allow themselves to be manipulated by the ideology of the Empire. In reading these episodes of conflict of Jesus with authority, the persecuted Christians were encouraged to continue on this road.
• Mark 12, 18-23. The Sadducees: The Sadducees were the aristocratic elite of land owners and traders. They were conservative. They did not accept faith in the Resurrection. At that time, this faith was beginning to be evaporated by the Pharisees and popular piety. It urged to the resistance of the people against the dominion of the Romans, and of the priests, of the elders and of the Sadducees themselves. For the Sadducees, the Messianic Kingdom was already present in the situation of well-being in which they were living. They followed the so called “Theology of Retribution” which distorted reality. According to this Theology God rewards with richness and well-being those who observe the Law of God, and he punishes with suffering and poverty those who do evil. This makes one understand why the Sadducees did not want changes. They wanted that religion remain as it was, immutable like God himself. This is why they did not accept the faith in the Resurrection and in the help of the angels, who sustained the struggle of those who sought changes and liberation.
• Mark 12,19-23. The question of the Sadducees: They go to Jesus to criticize and to ridicule the faith in the Resurrection, to tell about the fictitious case of the woman who got married seven times and at the end she died without having any children. The so called Law of the levirate obliged the widow who had no children to marry the brother of the deceased husband. The son who would have been born from this new marriage would be considered the son of the deceased husband. And thus he would have descent. But in the case proposed by the Sadducees, the woman, in spite of the fact of having had seven husbands, remained without a husband. They asked Jesus: “In the Resurrection, when they will rise, to whom will the woman belong? Because seven had her as wife!” This was in order to say that to believe in the resurrection led the person to accept what was absurd.
• Mark 12, 24-27: The response of Jesus. Jesus responds harshly: Surely, the reason why you are wrong is that you understand neither the Scriptures nor the power of God“. Jesus explains that the condition of persons after death will be totally different from the present condition. After death there will be no marriage, but all will be as the angels in Heaven. The Sadducees imagined life in Heaven as life on earth. And at the end Jesus concludes: “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living! You are in great error”. The disciples are warned: those who are on the side of these Sadducees will be on the side opposite to God.

4) Personal questions

• Today, which is the sense of this phrase: God is not the God of the dead but of the living”?
• Do I also believe the same thing in the resurrection? What does the following mean for me: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and in life everlasting?

5) Concluding Prayer

Lord, I lift up my eyes to you who are enthroned in heaven.
Just as the eyes of slaves are on their masters' hand,
or the eyes of a slave-girl on the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes are on Yahweh our God,
for him to take pity on us. (Ps 123,1-2)


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Last revised: 23 May 2008